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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Journalists, experts to examine safety and protection at 10th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas



With physical violence and cyberattacks against journalists reaching unprecedented levels throughout Latin America, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is bringing together journalists and representatives from multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations to discuss practical solutions at the 10th annual Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, to be held May 20-22 in Austin, Texas.

This year's Forum, themed "Safety and Protection for Journalists, Bloggers, and Citizen Journalists," is organized by the Knight Center and the Latin America and Media programs of the Open Society Foundations. The largest-ever Forum, with an anticipated 70 participants from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, will open Sunday night, May 20, with a speech by Frank La Rue, the United Nations' (UN) special rapporteur on freedom of expression.


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"I think the Forum is very timely because the violence against journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists in many countries in Latin America has reached endemic proportions and in a few countries, like Mexico and Honduras, it has gone beyond their worst nightmares," said Rosental Calmon Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and Knight Chair in Journalism & UNESCO Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. "This is not going to be a conference just to recognize the gravity of the issue, but also to propose practical measures for protection."

Most Latin American and Caribbean countries will be represented at the Forum, which includes panels on "Strategy to Improve Safety and Protection Mechanisms to Combat Impunity," "Legal Threats to Press Freedom," "Safety and Protection in Cyberspace," "Trauma and Journalism," and "Examining the Current State of Protection Mechanisms for Journalists." See the complete program below.

In addition to the special rapporteurs for freedom of expression from the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) and the director of free expression for UNESCO, and representatives from NGOs dealing with the issue, like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the Inter American Press Association, the Forum also will include the participation of stakeholders dealing with the violence on a daily basis, such as the editor and the publisher of the Nuevo Laredo newspaper in Mexico that was attacked in recent days, and Carlos Dada of El Faro in El Salvador, who has been threatened in recent weeks, Alves said. Likewise, Hector Becerra, executive director of C-Libre in Honduras -- where another journalist was found dead Tuesday, May 15 -- will speak on a panel about the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Beyond physical violence, the Forum also will address cybersecurity, such as with panelists Jillian York of the Electronic Fonrtiers Foundation, and blogger Luis Carlos Diaz of Venezuela, where journalists increasingly endure cyberattacks.

"Journalists should be aware of the dangers and threats of having their lives online," Alves said.

More than just an annual conference, the Austin Forum is a network of organizations that focus on media development and training in Latin America and the Caribbean. Previous Forums have focused on such topics as Media Coverage of Migration in the Americas and Coverage of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The complete program for the 10th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas follows:

SUNDAY, May 20

7:00pm-9:00pm – Inaugural dinner
Welcome words by Glenn Frankel, director, University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism
• Rosental Alves (moderator), Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
• Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression
• Heriberto Cantú, editor, El Mañana, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
• José Ruben Zamora, editor and publisher, elPeriódico, Guatemala

MONDAY, May 21

8:00-8:45am: Breakfast

8:45-9:00am: Goals and Objectives of the meeting: Identifying best policies and practices to address physical and online threats to Freedom of Expression in the Americas
• Rosental Alves, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
• Sandra Dunsmore, Open Society Foundations Latin America Program
• Stewart Chisholm, Open Society Foundations Media Program

9:00-9:45am: Strategy to Improve Safety and Protection Mechanisms to Combat Impunity
• Catalina Botero, Organization of American States’ Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
• Jaime Abello (moderator), executive director, FNPI, Colombia

9:45-10:30am: The Legal Threats to Press Freedom: From the old criminal defamation laws to the newest attempts to regulate the Internet
• César Ricaurte (moderator and presenter), director, Fundamedios, Ecuador
• Eduardo Bertoni, director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Argentina
• Joel Simon, executive director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), USA

10:30-10:45am Coffee break

10:45am-12:30pm: Safety and Protection on Cyberspace: Threats and vulnerabilities facing journalists and online media
• Gustavo Gorriti (moderator), director, IDL-Reporteros, Peru
• Luis Carlos Diaz, blogger, communication coordinator for Centro Gumilla, Venezuela
• Javier Valdez Cárdenas, co-founder & editor, Riodoce newspaper, Culiacán, Mexico
• Robert Guerra, senior advisor, Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for Global Affairs, Canada
• Jillian York, director, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, USA

12:30-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30-2:15pm: The United Nations Action Plan and UNESCO’s Role
• Guy Berger, director, UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development
• Stewart Chisholm (moderator), Open Society Foundations Media Program

2:15-3:45pm: The Endemic Violence Against Journalists and Media in Latin America
• Monica Gonzalez (moderator), director, CIPER, Chile
• Benoît Hervieu, director, Americas desk, Reporters Without Borders, France
• Zuliana Lainez, International Federation of Journalists/National Association of Journalists, Belgium/Peru
• Joel Simon, executive director, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), USA
• Ricardo Trotti, director, Inter American Press Association, USA

3:45-4:00pm: Break

4:00-5:30pm: The Most Dangerous Countries: The cases of Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico
• Gotson Pierre (moderator), director, Alterpresse, Haiti
• Hector Becerra, executive director, C-Libre, Honduras
• Marcelo Moreira, Globo TV editor and president of ABRAJI, Brazil
• Ginna Morelo, reporter for El Meridiano de Córdoba and president of Consejo de Redacción, Colombia
• Daniela Pastrana, freelance journalist and director of Periodistas de a Pié, Mexico

7:00pm: Dinner

TUESDAY, May 22

8:00am- 9:00am: Breakfast

9:00am-9:30am: Trauma and Journalism
• Bruce Shapiro, director, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, USA
• Carlos Fernando Chamorro (moderator), editor and publisher, Confidencial, Nicaragua

9:30am-11:00am: Examining the Current State Protection Mechanisms for Journalists: CELE’s study on the cases of Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala
• Ewald Scharfenberg (moderator), director of IPYS-Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela
• Andres Morales, executive director, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Colombia
• Leonarda Reyes, freelance journalist, founder and director, CEPET, Mexico
• Martín Rodriguez Pellecer, director, Plaza Pública, Guatemala
• Natalia Torres, co-author of a study on journalists’ protection, CELE, Argentina

11:00-11:15am: Coffee break

11:15am-12:45pm: Prevention and Protection Strategies: How to help journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists in hostile environments
• Ricardo Uceda (moderator), director, Press and Society Institute (IPYS), Peru
• Renata Ávila, blogger, Global Voices
• Carlos Dada, founder & director, El Faro, El Salvador
• Rodney Pinder, executive-director, International News Safety Institute (INSI)
• Dario Ramirez, director, Article 19, Mexico
• Frank Smyth, founder and director, Global Journalist Safety, USA

12:45pm-1:00pm: Announcing the topics for the four working groups, based on suggestions and votes by Forum participants.

1:00pm-2:00pm: Lunch break — working group conversations starts here

2:00pm-3:15pm: Breakout sessions: Working groups on strategies to address improving safety and combating impunity

3:15pm-3:30pm: Coffee break

3:30pm-5:00pm: Working groups proposals – presentations by each group and discussions, moderated by Rosental Alves and Stewart Chisholm.

7:00pm: Dinner



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